Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Who and Why?

January 18: This is my week for saying a little bit about myself, so that you know who's speaking, and a little bit about how I come to be here at Saint Benedict's Monastery.

Well, you already know my name. I'm an only child. My father died when I was 5 and my mother about 13 years ago. I come from the United Kingdom where, although I don't have any immediate family, I have an aunt, several cousins and extended family, and a number of very close friends. I was brought up as an Anglican, but knew from the age of 12 that I wanted to be a Catholic. I took instruction whilst a student at Oxford University, where I studied Philosophy and Theology, and was received into the Catholic Church when I was 20. Following my BA, I worked for 18 months as a nursing assistant at a hospice in London, and eventually trained as a Registered Nurse.  My clinical specialties were hospice and ophthalmic care, but most of my career was spent in healthcare research, concentrating on quality of life issues for patients and families. I obtained an MSc (Keele University, UK) in 1992 and a PhD (Manchester University, UK) in 1996. I always saw work as being something which should flow out of my faith and convictions. I guess healthcare work fulfilled that theoretically but, while I have certainly experienced great satisfaction from some of the work I did, I always felt that something was missing. I wanted more.

By 2005, I had reached a stage in my life where I knew that I wanted to simplify it, pare it down and have more space for prayer and for God. I'll just pause at this point to say that I was, in many ways, very happy. I was blessed to have close, loving and supportive relationships, opportunities to travel and recreate in ways that I found satisfying and life-giving, and work that had the potential to help others. I wouldn't describe myself as being overly religious, in the sense that I wasn't very involved in parish life. However, I spent quite a lot of time talking to God, made a retreat occasionally and have been blessed with friends who, whatever their religious belief and practice, took their inner life seriously and with whom I could explore issues about faith and the meaning of life. There just kept being this inner "voice" that was saying, "There must be something more."

So, how did I get to Saint Benedict's Monastery? I believe the Holy Spirit led me... and was I unsuspecting! I will be honest and say that for the previous 10 or 12 years the thought had come to me periodically that maybe I was called to religious life, but I NEVER wanted to be a nun, so I always pushed it away with a "Why would I want to do that?" I had certainly never looked for any order to enter. If I had, I would have looked for places in England, so the ideas of 'monstery-me-America' were not connected in my mind. I'll  go into more detail about what happened next week but, for now, the bare fact is that I came originally to the Studium program (see our website  for details) for two weeks in the summer of 2005, never in a million years thinking that I was coming to what would turn out to be my new home.

Sister Karen Rose, OSB

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